After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
Summer has begun, our children are out of school, day camps are in full swing…and the majority of parents with elementary through high school-aged children have willingly morphed into professional chauffeurs.
Parents today are so prone to jump on the “My-Child-Needs-to-Have-the-Leg-Up-on-Summer” Train, so much so that our lives quickly become dictated by schedules, practices, tournaments, lessons, extra-curricular classes…need I say more? Many of us succumb to the false narrative that our lives are somehow richer and more fulfilled if we’ve stacked our days with external endeavors.
Juggling Acts and Crazy Trains
Just this morning, I sneaked in a 30-minute jog on the treadmill at our local YMCA while my daughter prepared for her upcoming swim meet at the pool. I found myself jogging next to another swim parent whom I recognized, and we started to chat about the “juggling act” we welcome into our lives around this time of year, if not year-round.
Turns out, we are both working mothers, have very active children, and desire to maintain an orderly home. We both care about being good wives and mothers, about feeding our children healthy food and modeling a healthy lifestyle. Yet, we both feel the pressure and strain of trying to balance it all with ease. None of the aforementioned pursuits are bad. In fact, some people might argue that our priorities are right where they should be.
We chuckled as we both confessed about the visible dog hair accumulating under our sofas, about our homes that are no longer cleaned to our once-held standard of cleanliness.
Our conversation went even deeper as we agreed that we must surrender certain things to maintain any kind of balance. Webster’s Dictionary defines balance as “a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.” The world tells us that “having it all” is possible.
But at what price? Are we willing to surrender in one area so that we gain another?
One Thing Is Necessary
Luke 10:38-42 provides great insight about two sisters, Martha and Mary, who, like myself and my jogging friend, wrestled with life prioritization.
When I read this passage of Scripture, I imagine a house bustling with people who are engaged in many meaningful conversations. Martha is running about, striving to prepare a nice meal for her guests and relatives. She’s wondering where she’ll seat everyone so they are comfortable, figuring out logistics of crowd-control in her modest home. Luke 10:40 tells us that Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
Meanwhile, Martha’s sister, Mary, sits at the feet of her Lord Jesus Christ intently listening to his teachings, finding herself utterly content and fulfilled (10:39).
Hosting such a crowd can be overwhelming, so when Martha discovers her sister sitting at the feet of Jesus she says emphatically, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (10:40)
Feeling compassion for Martha, Jesus reassuringly says in Luke 10:41-42:
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.
If Martha were alive today, she’d likely be a woman just like me, just like my jogging friend. Martha loved the Lord, she loved her sister, and she loved to host and make people feel comfortable. And, if she were a mother, she’d probably board the “Crazy Train” like the rest of us parents do, out of love for our children.
Martha was distracted, by good things too. Her Achilles heel was her inability to prioritize “the one thing” that was most important. Martha worried, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink?” (Matthew 6:31) when all she needed to do was live out the promise of Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Choose the Good Portion
As a modern woman, I completely identify with Martha, but I yearn to live like Mary. Mary wasn’t swayed by societal pressure or obligation. She wasn’t distracted and understood balance and prioritization. Mary knew exactly what to surrender to gain the “one thing” that mattered most.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” That’s what Mary did. She sought Jesus first.
Are you like Martha, distracted by good things, or like Mary, who had her priorities straight? How might you live more like Mary and surrender good things to gain the “one thing that is necessary,” Jesus Christ?